Easter wins FLC’s 1st national ‘track’ title

Skyhawks’ cyclist pedals into history at velodrome

Griffin Easter rode into Fort Lewis College cycling history at the USA Cycling Collegiate Track Nationals in Frisco, Texas, over the weekend.

Easter, a veteran of all disciplines of cycling, won Fort Lewis’ first national track title when he captured first place in the points race at the week-long college nationals.

“It was really a fun time ... really exciting,” Easter, 20, said in a telephone interview with The Durango Herald.

“I had done the same race last year ... and I did pretty well. I was 10th,” Easter said.

Easter said FLC track cycling coach Ian Burnett, a former Skyhawk rider and current pro road cyclist, encouraged him to train to win a national track title in 2012.

“I did my first summer of road racing with a team,” said Easter, who is from Claremont, Calif.

A heavy race schedule helped his cycling fitness, he said.

“And the three weekends leading up to nationals, we went to Colorado Springs and trained on the 7-Eleven Velodrome,” Easter said.

“In between, we did some motor pacing with a motorcycle, he said.

“Then, it all came together,” said Easter, who raced out of Santa Cruz, Calif., last summer.

Easter, who had finished third for Fort Lewis in the individual pursuit race earlier, won the points race over Colton Barrett of Marian University in Indianapolis and Zack Allison of Colorado State University.

Sarah Sturm of Fort Lewis finished seventh in the women’s national points race. Teammate and roommate Lauren Catlin finished 13th in Texas.

A points race in track cycling is a mass start event with everyone on the track at the same time.

Sturm earlier placed 12th in the individual pursuit.

In individual pursuit, two cyclists start on opposite sides of the track and race for a 4-kilometer distance.

Sturm, a professional mountain biker who rides for the Skyhawks, also finished sixth in the scratch race at track nationals. Catlin finished 16th.

Ben Stalker of Fort Lewis was 12th in the men’s scratch race with teammate Ryan Cleveland 16th.

A scratch race is a mass start race over a certain number of laps.

They also placed in the sprint event. Stalker was 20th; Cleveland finished 21st. Sprint racing on the track is like one-on-one match racing, with the cyclists starting together.

Fort Lewis’ cycling program also picked up points in the national team pursuit competition at the track in Texas.

The FLC women’s team finished third behind national champion Marian University and national runner-up Midwestern State of Texas.

The FLC cyclists were Sturm, Catlin, Kathryn Ross and Allerton Johnson.

FLC cycling sends a small contingent to the collegiate track nationals to add points for the overall college cycling omnium scoring. Fort Lewis is the reigning overall national collegiate cycling champion.